Xanadu Weyr - Shore of Lake Caspian
The cliffs that run along the shore come and go, various weyrs nestled along the tops of them or dug into the walls, but eventually they recede enough to expose a beach. The white sand echoes the rise and fall of the cliffs with a multitude of sandy dunes, endlessly creating tiny valleys that are constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of dragons. The dunes smooth out as the gentle slope approaches the edge of the deep blue water. The sand darkens, and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect.
The beach narrows to the southwest, leaving a path barely wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to a smaller, more sheltered cove. The sands are the same white, the waters the same blue, but they're calmer and more tranquil, more protected from the winds that ruffle Lake Caspian and the currents that tug beneath the surface.
Rough, wide stairs lead up to the meadow above and the road that runs along the top of the cliffs, passing through the fields and heading for the river mouth that can be just barely seen from here. The largest of the staircases up the cliff is located near the docks that jut out onto the peaceful blue waters.
Days have passed since the ceiling collapse, and somewhere between the mad scramble to save those that they could, laying to rest those that they could not, and all of the personal and political trauma one could ever ask for and then some, Esiae has been a scarce figure around the weyr. Chances are good that an ordered rest period is the only reason she can be found sitting on the sand just out of reach of lapping waves, knees drawn tight to her chest, eyes glassy and staring at the horizon. Someone has seen to her, judging by clean clothing and a series of neat braids that she surely wouldn't've bothered with herself, but whomever they were, they couldn't make her rest. Dark tunnelcat markings circle both eyes, as though it'd been some time since she last saw sleep.
There was plenty to do in the aftermath. There's still plenty to be done really, but even in this everyone needs to take time for themselves. D'had has been plenty busy around normal duties of Galaxy wing and helping with clean up. Just now, given the time if anyone's paying attention to such things, he's likely returning from sweeps. Siebith landing on the beach where his rider strips his straps to coil them in a neat pile to be picked up later before the blue slips off into the water. Rider turns after him, pulling off his flight jacket to add it to the pile of straps - its then that he notices the junior on the beach and heads in her direction. "Mind company?"
Esiae doesn't react to the motion nearby. Even if she's been sent to 'rest,' the rest of the weyr is indeed still in motion, and it's likely quite a number of people have come and gone around her, with a similar lack of notice on her part. It might be because she's addressed, or maybe she recognizes his voice, because it's only D'had's question that pulls her back into herself, reddened, harrowed eyes focusing upon the bluerider before moving away again with a shrug. "No." It takes her a moment to realize that could have been a denial or an acceptance of his company, so with a slight frown she clarifies, voice rough with overuse and emotion, "Don't mind. Not much company on my part, but." Another shrug, and a large heaping of silence from the usually-chatty junior as her gaze hardens out at the horizon again.
D'had doesn't seem to mind the answer, taking it for that she doesn't mind - or inviting himself to join her regardless of the answer given. Lowering himself to the sand he takes a seat beside the woman. "You look.." like hell, "nice," the hair, the dress, "and exhausted," he notes, offering the barest hint of a smile. "You okay?"
Esiae doesn't react when he moves to join her, but she does issue a low snort, gaze moving so she can squint in his direction when he says she looks nice. It's not a mean look, just a sarcastic and disbelieving one. She knows exactly how she looks, and it ain't nice, despite someone's best attempt. "I am." Worn out, that is. "Can't remember when I slept last. Too much to do." Finally one hand moves to rub over her face, though it goes tense when he asks if she's okay. Tears well up, unbidden, but she blinks them back furiously, bone-deep sadness rippling through her in a shudder, kept suppressed far too long. A stubborn frown wrinkles her forehead again, but there's no use denying it after that initial reaction, so she says "No." in about as quiet of a voice as anyone's ever heard her use, most likely. A beat, and then she speaks in a choppy rush, as though not trusting her voice not to break if she doesn't keep it to less than a thimbleful of syllables at a time. "Left today. Weyr's empty. S'quiet."
D'had nods slowly, a subtle bob of the head. "Rest when you can," he says quietly. She likely has enough people reminding her she needs to take care of herself and get some sleep, but there are times he understands where its near impossible. "Come here?" a request that he won't force, but he'll offer a shoulder and a hug if its something she needs. Another nod for her note of leaving and it being quiet. "Family?" he's assuming but looking for clarification, confirmation of the who.
Esi pauses as though she actually has to contemplate that before shaking her head, reddened eyes focusing into the middle distance. "Can't. Tried, but it keeps replaying." Someone will probably find her passed out somewhere unusual, when exhaustion eventually overwhelms her, but for now she sways ever so slightly, vascillating between forcing herself to stay stubborn and strong and giving in to his request, despite the lack of pressure. Eventually, she settles on the latter, and it's a good thing, too - his shoulder's a good place to hide her face when tears actually come. It's not the deluge of emotion she probably needs, but there's definite sniffling that precedes a nod. "Cai. Sig. Kids," one less now, after the incident, though she can't bring herself to say that, to admit her nephew's gone. "Fosters visited," which explains her appearance, "but s-sent them home, too." And now it's just her and a too-big weyr, which likely explains why she isn't in it right now.
"It'll do that," D'had replies at her comment of replaying, understanding evident in those quiet words. When she gives into his shoulder he wraps an arm around her back and she's welcome to stay there as long as she needs it would seem. Not holding her there, but comforting silently. A nod as she clarifies the who. "Was your brother out there?" uncertain if that's right. He knows it was someone she was close to by her reaction that day and she told him once what relation was a candidate but far be it from him to remember now.
The woman makes a strangled, somewhat hysterical noise for that. It might be an attempt at a laugh or another barely-lidded sob, or maybe some strange mix of the two. "Wish it wouldn't. Bad enough seeing once," she finally manages, voice thick against his shoulder as her own arms circle him, more out of a desperate need to hold on to something than anything else. "Was so sudden. Should've… should've made 'em take the clutch to th'Annex or… or shouldn't've let 'em rush…" Her head shakes in response to his question, and keeps shaking as though imagining the horror of it being one of her brothers instead of Ainemn. It proves to be too much, for it takes several attempts before she can manage the word "Nephew," and even then it comes out garbled around renewed tears, this time accompanied by shaking shoulders as she begins to cry in earnest. Poor D'had.
D'had may well seem a little surprised when she clings to him like that, but gives a gentle rub of her back with the hand already there around her. "I know," he tries, but he'll not lie and say it will stop any time soon. "It gets easier." He shakes his head as she goes on, "Wasn't nothing you could have done. And it wasn't your fault," of that he will assure her however. A nod follows for the correction of who it was out there on the sands. Resting his chin on her head he lets out a breath. "Shhh." No, he's not the one to tell her not to cry - he's been known to say that, but now is not one of those times. Sometimes its necessary to let it all out.
And let it out she does. It might not be the full force of what she's been repressing for literal days, but it's still a great deal for someone like her, someone who usually hides behind bravado and laughter. It's the understanding that does it more than anything, that keeps one hand around him and the other fisted in his shirt just below the collar as sobs shake through her and, eventually, slow. It's her treatment of his poor clothing that pulls Esiae out of the misery at first, her hand eventually letting go and attempting to pat the fabric back in place with a quiet, hiccupped, "Sorry." She's quiet a moment, save for the occasional hitch or sniff, before replying. "I know. Makes it worse, not bein' anybody's fault. Least if it was, could be angry about somethin'. Blame somethin'. Instead s'just a tragedy," she says, spitting the word as though it's been overused lately as she rubs the side of her face not pressed to his shoulder free of tears. "Instead we just get to dwell on why and—" Choking up, she stops talking again, shoulders sagging with exhaustion and defeat.
"It's alright," D'had almost chuckles, that light touch on her back remaining. His shirt will be fine despite clenching and tears. As for blame, he shakes his head, "Not always, sometimes having something to blame you just keep rerunning what you could've done different." He's had plenty of time to consider that. "Know it don't make it easier, was his time."
Esi tries to laugh with him, but it's a watery, pathetic version of it's usual self, and ends quickly. Instead, she lets a solemn moment pass while she ponders what he's said, letting his touch soothe some of the hysterics away. "I s'pose," she murmurs at length, perhaps not in the mindset to agree just yet, but accepting the bit of wisdom anyways. "Been thinkin' all those things anyways, though, so…" Huff. She just stiffens when he implies it was her nephew's time, pulling back only just far enough that she can eye him with a slight frown. It fades quickly, understanding seeming to kick in that he's being rational by saying that, but it still makes her head shake, eyes going distant again. "He was only eighteen. That's not anybody's time," is said with only the slightest of lip-quivers.
D'had watches her for a second as she pulls back, letting her move easily away. For a moment when eyes meet there just may be the hint of tears in his as well before he turns his head to look back out over the water in front of them. That somewhat glazed look, perhaps a hint of water in a corner. He's trying to be rational, yes, to let her get it out and not blame herself, but saying it is even perhaps an attempt to convince himself. "I know…" he replies simply agreeing this time. That's the hardest to rationalize - young and unexpected.
Esiae's shoulders droop for that hint of tears, one hand reaching up to smooth D'had's hair in a comforting gesture, if he'll have it. "Shells, sorry. Didn't mean to bring you down with me," she murmurs quietly, expression torn between sadness and sympathy before she glances away too. "Didn't mean to fall apart on you to begin with," she adds with a single, heavy laugh, head hanging as she shakes it again, frustrated by her inability to keep her own tears at bay. "It's just—" But whatever it just is, she doesn't say, since it'd probably be more fruitless frustrations or rationalizations. "Awful." For them both, old troubles and new.
Tears might be the hint of a threat, but D'had's not about to have them fall they don't get any further than that. A subtle smirk of a smile finds its way out when her fingers find his hair. "Don't worry about it," he assures, turning to look back at her. "You probably needed it," he adds - to fall apart that is. "But.. yeah.." There's that.
Esiae peers up at him, and though she doesn't actually smile, she looks a little less miserable for a second in the wake of his smirk. "You sure? I sure dumped a heaping pile of sadness on you. It'd only be fair to return the favor," she replies, her own lips quirking up just a bit with the attempt at a joke before her expression sobers again, hand finally dropping into her lap along with her gaze. "Yeah. I did. Been tryin' to hold it together. Had… families to console, includin' m-mine," she says, jaw clicking shut to clench her teeth tight against another meltdown. "Builds up, you know?," she manages after a moment, one hand coming up to run tiredly over her face.
D'had nods, "Yeah," he replies as to being sure. "Old memories," the only comment on what he might have been thinking. She doesn't really want to hear about all that. Right? Head bobs a bit more as she goes on, he understands completely. "Yeah," the rider agrees, "Feelin' a little better now?" He's not about to expect sunshine and rainbows now, but at least she doesn't seem as down on the world as when he arrived on the beach.
Esi's features soften for that reply, lips twitching to one side with a small nod of understanding. "Okay," she says, quiet and simple. "Those can be their own kind of burden though, memories," she says, gaze heavy with knowing. "If you ever do just need to talk it out or… shells." That hand rubbing her face shifts to focus on her forehead, words coming out more truthsome than they might ordinarily as she mumbles, "Don't know what to say 'round you sometimes. Do I ask? Do I not ask? Am I bein' rude by pryin', or is it helpful?" The questions aren't exactly meant for him to answer, judging by the rough exhale and the way she lets him change the subject, chin jerking in a nod. "Yeah. Got a feelin' it'll sneak back up on me again, 'specially when I eventually gotta go back to my weyr, but…" Shrug. "For now I'm better. Thank you."
D'had nods, "Good," he replies simply to the fact that for the moment at least she is feeling a bit better. Back peddling a bit he goes on to say, "Ask if ya want, don't mean I have to answer." Much as he keeps things to himself if he doesn't want to share its not likely he will even if prodded to do so. For now, while she may not have asked outright its implied clear enough. "The twins ma.. those flashes we got," he and Siebith, the weyr in general it could be either, "before she went between…" A shake of his head. That was what four, five turns ago now and he still thinks about it. What could he have done to make that outcome different. "And before that…"
Esiae nods quietly, though whether that's for his 'good' or his statement that she can ask if she wants, it's hard to tell. Maybe it's for both. Regardless, she had meant to ask, and so she listens to his reply, even if it ends in another jaw clenched against tears. It doesn't work this time, remembered pain and sorrow and well-deep sympathy for him having to live through that making them spill over, though she's quick to dash the streaks of water from her cheeks. "Shells, I…" Shouldn't've pried, but it's too late for that, so she says instead, "I'm so sorry." The mention of time before that gives her pause, distracts her, a small frown furrowing her brows as little things he's said and reactions he's had over the course of the conversation slowly clicking into place. "D'had…" She likely doesn't have to finish the sentence, it's there all over her face, but she says it anyways. "Tell me you don't blame yourself for that."
"Hey now," D'had gently chides for the re-emergence of those tears. A shake of his head follows for what follows. "No," his answer comes with a bit of hesitation, "Not always. Plenty of times wish things'a been different. Maybe if I'd been there for her." Maybe then things would have been different. "Before her… there was this girl, you kinda remind me of her," he notes with a sad sort of fondness. "Couldn't save her," he finally admits, gaze shifting back towards the water.
Esi makes a noise for that chiding, somewhere between a chuckle and a hiccup as she rubs her eyes again, just to make sure the rogue, unwanted tears are gone. A suspicious squint gets aimed D'had's way for his hesitation, clearly reading 'not always' as 'sometimes.' She's in no position to argue about it though, still carrying doubts about her position to prevent the tragedy on the sands, so instead she soothes her hand over his shoulder and then leans against it, exhaling lowly. "Yeah…" Her head tilts his way when he talks about someone else though, lips twitching slightly to one side sadly when he says he couldn't save her. "What happened?," she questions eventually, quietly, since, well, he said she could always ask.
"Ain't somethin' I really ever told.." D'had starts. Sure there are some out there that know the story, but very few he's told the story too. The short version is what she gets, hesitation in his voice, "Boat capsized." He did tell her the ocean tried to drown him before.
Esiae's all kinds of ready to accept the refusal, and even looks a little surprised when, after that brief hesitation, he actually tells her. Surprise immediately gives way to concern, the woman exhaling with a rough, "Shards… Know you said once that the sea tried to do you in but… Didn't realize…" Evidently she does remember, but can't concoct a proper thing to say. "Sorry," she settles on in the end, giving up awkwardness for simple sympathy and tucking one hand around his far shoulder in a one-armed embrace, though it'd be easy to move out of if he wanted. "That had to've been awful…"
D'had draws in a breath, blowing it out though he does allow that hug. "We were out on our own. Storm came out of nowhere." Having been out on the ocean like she has chances are she'd know what he's talking about there at least. "Remember seeing her, reaching, and then nothing…" he trails off with a shake of his head. "Weren't we talkin' about you?" How did the conversation make it to this?
"Yeah. Been there," Esiae murmurs darkly about sudden storms brewing up at sea, thumb shifting to knead his shoulder gently, perhaps without her even realizing it. Her jaw clenches for his description of reaching for for the girl he was with when the boat capsized, the woman exhaling hard through her nose. "Seen a man drown once, too. Similar conditions, though he was knocked off by a poorly-secured barrel. Had a dragon, but he couldn't get to him in time and he betweened. Only way we knew for sure he was gone…" She gives a quick shake of her own head, swallowing hard. "Guess it was their time, too…," she sighs, tone heavy as she mirrors his earlier words with a helpless, defeated sort of shrug as she twitches her gaze back out over the lake. "Shells, but we're a pair, aren't we." Her lips press to a thin line for his ensuing question. "Tired of talkin' about me, at any rate. Tired of near about everything," she continues, free hand rubbing at her eyes, the movement exhausted instead of pushing away tears, this time.
D'had frowns, nodding for her story of drowning experience. "Yeah…" he agrees reluctantly, "guess so." Was their time too. "Woulda been different if it hadn't been." That's for sure. "You should get some sleep," he notes a moment later, reaching a hand to her shoulder as he pushes a bit of that lopsided smile of his to his lips. "Least some rest." Sleep, he knows, might not be so easy to come by.
"If I gotta tell myself that, so do you," Esi chides gently, perhaps knowing that neither of them really believe it deep down. "Either way, I'm… sorry you lost your friend. Can't imagine how hard that was," she adds, though her earnest expression is ruined by a numb nod for how things would have been different otherwise. She doesn't trust herself to answer that without revisiting earlier hysterics, so instead she flicks her eyes down to that hand on her shoulder, then back up at him, a weary attempt at a return smile coming and going before she nods again. "Yeah. I'll try at least. See if I can't… you know." Empty her mind, not think about it, her hand waves vaguely to encompass all that as she finally pulls back and stands shakily. Instead of immediately departing, though, she lingers, brow slightly furrowed before she says, "And… thanks."
Friend? There's a second of confusion that flickers across his face at that comment before it dawns on D'had who she means. "Right… friend." His attention shifts to the water again though when she speaks again it does return to her. "I know," he repeats after her, and when she pulls back he'll let her following suit in pushing to his feet. "Welcome, and, well if you don't want to go home I hear the couch in the junior's office is pretty comfortable." Personal experience there, yes ma'am.
Esiae might have missed his earlier allusion to the girl being more than a friend, but she doesn't miss the way he phrases that word now, her eyes are going wide with an uttered, "Oh." Her brow knits again, gaze flicking over him in a manner that's one part awe, one part sorrow for what he's been through, as though losing a friend wasn't bad enough… "Heh. Nah. Was threatened with bodily harm if I set foot in the administrative hallway again. Gotta brave my weyr again eventually. Maybe by the time I get there, Sony'll be back from hunting." A beat, and another second of awkward lingering, the woman carefully picking over words before saying, "And D'had? It… might not mean much, things bein' what they are and goin' how they did, but… I'm glad you're here." Just in case he, like her, ever entertained the notion of how things would be different if it'd been them instead. Hopefully before he can react, the goldrider rises up on her toes to press a quick kiss to his cheek before turning away, unwilling to let him catch the renewed glimmer of tears as she heads for the stairs up to the cliffs.
D'had nods, "Hopefully then," he says with a bit of his usual chuckle at the thought of her having been kicked out of the administrative wing for the time being. "Don't think I'd change it," he replies. Despite the hard times, there have been plenty of good ones too. That kiss does comes unexpectedly though, perhaps giving her the time to duck off before anything else is said and leaving him to collect riding jacket and straps from up the beach before he returns home himself.